Charming Cast Elevates ‘Landline’ Past Its Familiar Flaws

Landline_(film)Oh my god, I love Jenny Slate so much.

“Landline” is the sophomore film for writer-director Gillian Robespierre following “Obvious Child.” The film follows two sisters (Jenny Slate and Abby Quinn) who thing their dad is having an affair in 1995 New York City. Edie Falco, John Turturro, Jay Duplass and Finn Wittrock also star.

I adore Jenny Slate and kick myself that I only recently saw “Obvious Child” (there’s only so many hours in the day to see every film). That was a fun and touching little indie and even if “Landline” doesn’t have all the charm and emotional weight of Robespierre’s debut film, it still is an amusing and at times touching work.

Slate was great in this year’s “Gifted” alongside Chris Evans and is always a breath of fresh air when she pops up in shows like “Parks and Rec” or “House of Lies.” She really doesn’t do any stretching of her acting chops here, she is playing the same lovable dork from all her other works (her laugh is literally perfect) but she does have one or two scenes of emotional stress that really make you wonder why she is just getting starring roles at this point of her career. Her sisterly chemistry with Abby Quinn is solid and their dynamic with their mom (Falco) is quietly effective, too.

All the performances here are solid, with Jay Duplass and Finn Wittrock playing two different kinds of guys (the kind you take home to mom and the kind that you fantasize about). Neither of them rises to the level of Jake Lacy in “Obvious Child” but they do their job and provided some laughs.

The film has no reason to be set in 1990s New York besides the fact Robespierre wanted to make a rom-com set in 1990s New York, and while there are a few moments that come off as gimmicky the production value is overall well-done, from outfits to payphones (if you don’t know what one of those are ask your parents).

The film is literally exactly what you think it’s going to be if you watched the trailer, with charming performances but a basic story. The daughters try to confirm their father’s infidelity while Slate is dealing with her own relationship stress and Quinn is trying to be a rebellious teen. Some of the stories work and lead to some effective drama; others seem pointless and just used to pad the runtime (this is a brisk enough 93 minutes even if it feels a bit longer than that).

“Landline” is a fine movie. Jenny Slate is adorable and showing why she deserves to be in more movies and I continue to look forward to more work from writer-director Gillian Robespierre. You’ve seen this movie once or twice before and there is a chance that it was done to a better degree, but sometimes some honesty and familiarity at the movies is comforting.

Critics Rating: 6/10

Landline - Still 1
Amazon Studios

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